A view from the Mississippi River

News | July 1, 2015

On the night of the strawberry moon, a sailboat made its way on the Mississippi River.

Drenched in moonlight, the boat moved along the places where the pelicans come to sit in the evenings. Barges passed by as they hauled their goods to ports in the south. In the middle of an urban place, yet on the river, quiet settled in.

Two white sails reached nearly 30 feet into the sky – a series of pulleys and ropes and cranks maneuvering their position as the wind and boat direction shift. A simple wooden handle guided the journey. A push to the left moved the boat to the right. A push to the right, and the boat shifted to the left.

The beauty is in in the simplicity of this 1983 boat, rescued from years of dry dock by Don and Linda Allebach. This is one of the places where they find great joy and peace.

“Our favorite thing is to just explore,” said Linda, assistant organist and a children’s choir director at St. Paul.

Sailing from childhood

Don learned how to sail from his dad, who learned how to sail from a textbook. As a child, Don took to the little lakes in Missouri to learn the craft with his father.

Twenty years ago, in the summer of 1996, he started sailing a bit with the Lake Davenport Sailing Club. He bought an old beat up racing boat with no intention of racing it. But what good is a racing boat if it’s not racing? A few nudges (or was it teasing?), and Don found himself racing.

“And he needed a crew,” Linda said with a smile.

Today, the Allebachs spend as much time as they can on the water.

Different boats, different experiences

The leisure sailboat is one that the Allebachs take friends and family on. They teach people to drive it, give them the chance to help maneuver the sails, to sit out on the bow and enjoy the wind and the sun (or the moon). If the wind is not strong, a small engine helps propel the boat when going upstream.

There are always snacks on board. Peanut butter Oreos, grapes, squeeze cheese and Ritz crackers.

The experience on an Allebach racing boat, on the other hand, is not as, well…leisurely.

New visitors to the boat first get a lesson on how to lean out of the boat so that they can help shift the weight when it tilts too much to one direction. Straps keep feet connected to the vessel.

Ducking is the next lesson – as changes in direction or wind move the sails, sometimes very quickly. A change in direction requires a fast duck down.

The experience of sailing on a racing boat is one of constant movement – balancing the boat, controlling the ropes, steering its direction. Attention to the direction and speed of the wind is key.

After time and experience, one can feel what needs to be done to move the boat on its course.

“It’s so natural,” said Don.

Gone sailing

The Allebachs enjoy traveling to race and take charter boats out to sea. They also offer sailing rides for charity auctions.

“We’ve met some really incredible people,” Linda said. “You can learn so much about another when out sailing.”

Back at the dock after a couple of hours out on the river with the leisure boat, the sails are back down and the life jackets are off. Visitors step out onto the slowly rocking dock and regain their feel for land.

Don and Linda wave goodbye as they talk about the next time they will be out on the river. Tomorrow night, they said, is racing night.

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Malachi 3:1-4

The Coming Messenger 3 See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. 2 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; 3 he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness.[a] 4 Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.

Hebrews 2:14-18

14 Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death. 16 For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters[a] in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.

Luke 2:22-40

Jesus Is Presented in the Temple 22 When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), 24 and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.” 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon;[a] this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.[b] 27 Guided by the Spirit, Simeon[c] came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, 28 Simeon[d] took him in his arms and praised God, saying, 29 “Master, now you are dismissing your servant[e] in peace, according to your word; 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” 33 And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. 34 Then Simeon[f] blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed 35 so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.” 36 There was also a prophet, Anna[g] the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child[h] to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. The Return to Nazareth 39 When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40 The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.